Federal regulators just granted emergency approval to the first coronavirus test that you can carry out at home.
The nasal swab test, created by LabCorp and called “The Pixel”, got the emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration Tuesday. LabCorp says its at-home testing kit should be just as safe as those currently provided by doctor’s offices and testing sites.
The kits — which involve a patient swabbing their own nose and mailing the sample back to the North Carolina-based diagnostic firm — will first be made available to first responders and front-line healthcare workers, according to LabCorp.
The company hopes the kits will be more widely available to most consumers in the coming weeks. They’ll cost $119, require a doctor’s approval, and consumers will have to pay out of pocket, according to the New York Times.
“With this action, there is now a convenient and reliable option for patient sample collection from the comfort and safety of their home,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a statement Tuesday.
Because the test only received emergency authorization, it hasn’t yet undergone the standard approval process. The FDA has granted similar emergency authorizations for saliva-based tests and other diagnostic procedures it wanted to quickly roll out for the pandemic.
Widespread testing is considered a crucial key to reopening the economy. The Trump administration has been panned by some for failing to scale the nation’s testing capacity before coronavirus gripped the U.S. and shuttered local businesses. Now, labs are inundated, and some are experiencing backlogs, with states claiming that they’ve largely been left to fend for themselves as they work to triple the pace of testing.
Cover: A Mound Bayou resident braces for a nasal swab by one of the Delta Health Center staff at a free drive-thru COVID-19 testing facility at the center’s Dr. H. Jack Geiger Medical Center in Mound Bayou, Miss., Thursday, April 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)